Dowry issue in India

Dowry issue in India

This article deals with ‘ Dowry issue in India .’ This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .

Introduction

  • Dowry is the  payment in cash or  kind to a bridegroom’s family at marriage
  • Dowry Death  = When young women are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry.

Reasons

  • Dowry as part of Indian culture : Exclusion of women from workforce especially those belonging to higher caste necessitate this .
  • Increasing   consumerism : people see dowry as avenue to fulfil their  impossible dreams.
  • For some people, paying dowry at their daughter’s marriage is an investment  for  fetching high  dowry through  their son’s  marriage.

New Trend : Earlier only upper castes indulged in dowry but now lower castes are imitating higher castes in this. This is process of Sanskritisation at play .

Effects of Dowry System

  • Domestic Violence : women are at the receiving end who are harassed & tortured .
  • Imbalance in sex ratio: due to this, daughters are seen as financial burden leading to female infanticide & foeticide .
  • Against Constitutional spirit of Equality and Justice as it leads to violation of Fundamental Rights of women and their parents .
  • It negatively impacts children‘s personality .
  • It is detrimental for Indian image at global level and also goes against Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ratified by India  .

Provisions to prohibit  dowry

Dowry issues in India

1 . Dowry prohibition Act , 1961

  • Under the act, asking & giving dowry has been made punishable by 6 months , or a fine .
  • Issue with the Act :  “Dowry” is defined as a gift demanded or given as a condition for marriage. Gifts given without condition are not considered dowry, and are legal.

2. Section 304 B of IPC

  • Section 304 B deals with dowry death related cases.
  • It has provision of imprisonment of 7 years to life term.

3. Section 498 A of IPC

  • Dowry related cases are non bailable and non compoundable.

4. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act , 2005

5. Conventions

  • Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is against it.

Side Topic : Issues with Dowry related provisions of IPC

1 . Section 406 of IPC 

  • Section doesn’t clearly demarcates boundary between dowry & Streedhan. This has been misused in demanding dowry. (according to Justice Malimath Committee)  .

2. Section 498 A of IPC is problematic

Problems

  • Husband or his family members are presumed to be guilty till they prove their innocence  => this provision is misused by the women .
  • Dowry related cases are non-compoundable (cant compromise while case is going) and non-bailable . According to Justice Malimath Committee , it kills any effort of conciliation .

July 2017 Judgement : Rajesh Sharma v State of UP 

  • Supreme Court accepted that Section 498A of the IPC is misused  .
  • As safeguard, Supreme Court ordered that : –
    • Set up of 3 membered ‘family welfare committees’ in all districts.  Every complaint will be looked into by Committee within month & no arrest can be made till that time .  
    • Automatic assumption of guilt has been seen as a problem .
  • Supreme Court in the case however has stated that the aforesaid directions do not apply to cases in which the wife has suffered tangible physical injuries or death.

How to end dowry ?

  • Attitudinal Change   : Government should use peer pressure  to bring attitudinal change in the society.
  • Amend Section 406 and 498A of IPC  as suggested by Malimath Committee.
  • Government should enforce the laws strictly.
  • Dowry related cases should be fast tracked in the courts. 
  • Government should promote “Adarsh Marriage” & ” Mass Marriage”.

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